Living and Learning in Europe

It’s been ages since I’ve written, and I apologize for that. I’ve been busy living! Life has been a blur the past few months, but a great blur. I’ve now been to Spain, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, the French Alps, back to Paris, and London. I’ve also taken several exams and written some papers (in case you were wondering if I actually go to school here!). Honestly, traveling has been wonderful, but the more places I visit, the more returning to Aix feels like home. There’s less than a month and half left for me here in France, and I am caught between the excitement of returning to America and the sadness of leaving my home in France. Since I haven’t written in a while, I’d love to share some of the cool learning experiences I’ve had, as well as the things I’ve really come to appreciate about France.

Study abroad has been absolutely amazing for my educational experience. It may seem cliché to talk about a global learning experience, but my travels around Europe have accompanied my courses so well!

  1. I visited the Museum of the Reformers and the Reformers Wall in Geneva, Switzerland while studying the Reform in my French History class.
  2. I took a tour of the Globe Theatre in London, where I learned about the ways plays were acted and presented during Shakespeare’s time. I am in a class right now that is called “Théâtre sur scène” (theater on the stage), where we focus on the ways playwrights construct their pieces to be played on stage
  3. The monuments I visited in Budapest were a reflection of their transition from Nazi occupation to Communism, and then on to democracy. This was something we touched on in my History course as well.
  4. Besides all this, I have found tremendous overlap in my courses on Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Belief, Anthropology of Africa, and Sociolinguistics! It’s been quite the enriching year. I have seen my interests in and knowledge of sociology expanded while taking courses here.

Studying abroad has also caused me to come to love some things about France! At the beginning, I was more frustrated than anything with the school system here. Yes, things continue to be disorganized and unclear with regards to classes, exams, and assignments, but I’ve learned to slow myself down and use the more relaxed system to explore my interests.

  1. One thing I’ve learned about myself since studying in France is that I like lectures where teachers just talk! At first, I found classes painfully long and boring, but I have realized that I retain much more information by just listening and taking notes than I do by copying power points! Instead of writing as much as I can from a board, I am able to write what is pertinent and remember it better come exam time.
  1. I also think that learning in French helps my focus with classes. It takes a bit more effort to keep up with what they are saying, and sometimes terms escape me, but in general, I love learning new words and engaging in a different language. My sociological vocabulary has expanded immensely, and I now know lots of linguistics terms only in French! I’m a little sad that I will only be hearing and speaking French in a literature class next year. Taking classes in French has been so fun for me.
  1. I like that the French don’t indent paragraphs. I like that they skip lines at certain points in written assignments. I like their structure. All of this used to frustrate me to no end, but a year of practice has me really liking the simplicity that comes with mastering their structure.
  1. I like how relaxed teachers are here in terms of definitions of assignments. I’ve felt more freedom to write what I know and have to say, rather than reaching a page limit. It’s funny, because specific paper instructions were one of my favorite things about school in America. Now, I’ve come to appreciate the creative and intellectual freedom that a lack of rules brings.

There’s a lot to love about France! I came to this country not knowing what to expect, and frankly not thinking I would enjoy it. But a year has definitely exceeded my expectations and proved my initial judgments wrong. I can’t wait to take advantage of my last month here!

2 thoughts on “Living and Learning in Europe”

  1. Hi Devin,
    Wow, what an outstanding experience! I’m going to sign up to study abroad next fall if aunt Linda will let me and your dad foots the bill. Wish me luck!
    Uncle Dan

  2. Hi Devin,

    I am so pleased that you have been able to travel all over Europe studying and experiencing other cultures. I cannot wait to see you when you come home although I know how busy you will be securing summer employment. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments! Way to go. Thanks for the blog and I will be sure to share it.

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